Choosing a Premier League team—Spurs or West Brom?
August 20, 2012 6:15 PM   Subscribe

Should I back Tottenham Hotspur or West Bromwich Albion?

I've been bonkers over international football for ages and, despite being a Yank, have ardently supported the Three Lions since 1998. I loosely follow the Premier League to keep tabs on my beloved England players, up-and-coming talents, and the NT opponents who play professionally for English clubs, but I've never been a strong backer of any particular team. A lot of my English friends are Liverpool fans, so I've vaguely supported the team on their behalf, but the more I think about it, the more I realise my heart just isn't into being a Red.

I'm doing a fantasy league this year, so I've decided to choose a team to support to make my involvement more enjoyable. After reading many articles about how to select a team and doing research on all the EPL clubs, I've narrowed it down to two choices: Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion (who, incidentally, happen to be playing each other on Saturday).

Pros for Spurs:
-Jermain Defoe is my absolute favourite England NT player, and now that Villas-Boas is at the helm, it looks like he might actually be staying at White Hart Lane after all.
-Spurs are based in my favourite city (London), which I try to visit at least once a year.
-I'm Jewish and apparently, Spurs are known to have a large Jewish fan-base due to the fact that they're located in what used to be a Jewish neighbourhood in London. The fans (both Jewish and Gentile) have adopted the nickname 'Yid Army' as a nod to this fact, which is kind of interesting (although David Baddiel disagrees).
-Tottenham have a good ranking, and have the capacity to go all the way in the next few years.

Pros for West Brom:
-I didn't know much about West Brom until I saw them defeat Liverpool on Saturday, but now I'm really smitten with them. Are they a top team? No. But they seem to be an up-and-coming, scrappy little team I could really get behind.
-From what I've read, Baggies fans have a charming quirkiness about them that sounds really appealing. Celebrating goals by jumping up and down shouting 'Boing Boing'? Adorable. Having annual themed-Fancy Dress days like Viking Day or Pirate Day? Awesome.
-I love, love, love the Throstle badge. A bird over stripes? Be still my easily-manipulated hipster heart! Seriously, I want it imprinted on everything I own. I would wear the hell out of that kit.
-I've been positive on the direction in which Roy Hodgson is leading England (I absolutely HATED Fabio Capello), and since Hodgson was at WBA for a year before getting the NT gig, it potentially indicates that some solid groundwork has been laid that could lead the Baggies up into the top 8.

So, all that being said, which team should I choose? My mind is saying Spurs, but my heart is saying West Brom and I just can't make the final choice. Help!
posted by baronessa to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You sound as if you admire and respect the Spurs.

You sound like you luuuuuuuuuurrrrrve West Brom.

It's sport. Go with your heart.
posted by rtha at 6:24 PM on August 20, 2012

Definitely go with your heart. I'd go with West Brom. That's part of the fun with sport!

(Though we have some decent soccer teams Stateside as well - go Sounders!)
posted by spinifex23 at 6:30 PM on August 20, 2012

Hi, I'm an American but I've been following English football since 1990.

I would go for West Brom, but I also have a thing against London clubs. (Though kudos to you for having Defoe as your favourite player. That's... not common.) This is should be an interesting year for Spurs with AVB at the helm, and a number of key players looking to leave. If they keep to together, they very may well make it to in the top 4. (I'm not really Jewish but I find the "Yid Army" stuff to be a bit icky. There is a Kick It Out campaign about it.

The thing about picking West Brom today, after that enjoyable display by Liverpool, you're a bit of a glory hunter but that's OK. Very few people would ever pick the Baggies for medals or honours. I saw them last year on their US tour at San Jose (and actually ran into Hodgson!), and the fans were great. They were enjoying it more than the Spurs fans the year before. Since you've followed England since 98, you're prepared for the eventual misery and disappointment. It always comes, but it also means you can appreciate the good. Like beating Liverpool.

(Disclosure: I support Sheffiield Wendesday for really stupid reasons, but I've stuck with them for over 20 years. I sort of support Everton for better reasons. I think it's a masochism thing.)
posted by kendrak at 6:33 PM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Spurs fans have to contend with the never-ending never-quite; Baggies fans are mainly just glad to be invited along and to have a few good home wins against big sides during the season. They're an honest footballing side with a good development programme, and tend to have decent affection from neutrals. Either will probably give you a lesson in disappointment, the default state of club fans.
posted by holgate at 7:46 PM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your friends, do any of them like Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion?
You should probably choose the opposing team, because it will end up a little like this.

But, like rtha says: go with your heart and West Brom it.
posted by Mezentian at 8:18 PM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Nthing West Brom.

The first time I played Football Manager, I randomly ended up with West Brom and fell in love with them immediately. Go Baggies!
posted by Sphinx at 10:57 PM on August 20, 2012

Also Nthing West Brom.

(Jermain Defoe may be staying at Spurs but they will sign at least one other striker and he'll start on the bench most of the time.)

Full disclosure: I'm an Arsenal fan!
posted by neilb449 at 11:51 PM on August 20, 2012

You need to go with your gut. That said, as a dyed-in-the-wool Yiddo, I'll give you my take.

Spurs have been the unlucky, plucky losers for so long now that it's just not funny anymore. They have the players, but never seem to be able to put it all together and shine at the very highest level - always stumbling at the crucial moment.

They have some of the most talented players in - dare I say it - the world, in Bale, Van der Vaart, and Modric (though it's likely he will leave for Real Madrid) and some of the most interesting promising younger players in Walker, Sandro and Sigurdsson. They also have a well decorated history - winning trophies in each of the last 6 decades, a record only Manchester United can equal - and have a passionate and vocal fanbase.

White Hart Lane is a fabulous old - proper football - stadium, not a big soul-less bowl, and when full of 36,000 souls (basically every game), is tremendously atmospheric. This is one thing to think as a negative if you're a remote-supporter who visits the city infrequently - tickets for Spurs games are incredibly difficult to come by unless you are a paid-up member. There is a 25,000+ person long season ticket waiting list, and seats generally don't go to General Sale unless the fixture is unremarkable (early cup ties against lower-league opponents, games against the likes of Wigan, Bolton).

Spurs' rivalry with Arsenal is pretty much as intense as football rivalries get. The North London Derby is one of the most famous football fixtures in the world, and the two teams are so close in terms of talent and ability right now that it's far from the one-horse race it was 10 years ago.

The Tottenham High Road was hit really hard with the riots last year, and the club have been pivotal in helping put the pieces back together in the community. I'm sure West Brom have a similar role in their local community, but I don't imagine many of the other 'big' Premiership teams are so well-connected to their community - certainly not Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea or Man City.

I have huge respect for West Brom - they're a great team and go about football the right way, but I do think they're resigned to being a yo-yo team who bob up and down between the Premiership and Championship every few years. Hodgson did a fabulous job with them last season, and I'm not sure Clarke will get the same out of the current squad this time round - crushing victories over Liverpool aside.

Spurs are so often nearly-but-not-quite 'there' that it's actually painful, as a fan, to follow. The promise of glory and success is often so close that you can taste it, yet it's snatched away at the last minute - a few examples; Pedro Mendes disallowed goal at Man United (the ball is a clear 2 ft over the line but it's not given); going 3-up against United and managing to lose 5-3 (we performed a similar trick last season away at Arsenal, being 2-0 up and losing 5-2); Lasagne-gate; losing Sol Campbell to Arsenal on a free; losing Champions League qualification this season because Chelsea fluked penalties against Bayern Munich; and so on and so on. It just goes on and on!

There are moments where everything does click though, and those moments are special - Gareth Bale's hat-trick against Internazionale in the Champions League; the reverse fixture where we took the European Champions apart 3-1 on our own turf; drubbing Arsenal 5-1 on the way to winning the League Cup; qualifying for the CL for the first time; The 4-4 with Arsenal; beating Wigan 9-1; etc etc I live for the rollercoaster ride that is being a Spurs fan - it's everything that being a football fan is all about.
posted by metaxa at 1:12 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also watched WBA kick Liverpool squarely in the crotch this weekend, and even though I'm a Red, I'd say go for the Baggies! They are a team that consistently punches above their weight. Spurs (like 'pool) have varied performances of late - sometimes they sparkle, others they fizzle.

When I asked about which Premier team to support, I was concerned about actually being able to watch games. Nowadays, though, you will not have such a problem. A membership to Fox Soccer 2Go will get you pretty much every game.

West Brom even visits the States every so often! One recent visit... didn't go well.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:51 AM on August 21, 2012

Just wanted to nth what robocop is bleeding said above: SIGN UP FOR FOXSOCCER.TV OR THE SOCCER2GO APP.

Best $16/month you will ever spend.
posted by kuanes at 3:48 AM on August 21, 2012

I won't presume to tell you which factors to prioritize, just wanted to give you something to think about. My kid came in the room while I was watching West Brom play someone a year ago and saw that they have a scorer named Odemwingie. He thought it was the greatest thing over. So next time I went to London, I went hunting for an Odemwingie jersey. Failed completely. The stores a Yank can easily find didn't have really any WBA stuff. But beyond the availability of kits, consider whether you'll want to go to a game. Picking West Brom means either travel or planning your trip around when they're in London. Spurs will be in London more often than not.
posted by troywestfield at 8:02 AM on August 21, 2012

As a Fulham fan who has convinced many a Yank to follow us, one of the smaller top-flight clubs, I say go with West Brom. In the US so many people follow the regular big teams, I have bonded and become very good friends with people who don't do that. Spurs are on the edge for me, but being a West Brom fan would gain you respect amongst us small team fans. Just to give you an example, in the bar in which I was watching the Fulham and West Brom games side-by-side on Saturday, all of us Fulham fans were cheering the Baggies, much to the chagrin of the legions of Liverpool fans there. Solidarity!
posted by ob at 9:54 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

The stores a Yank can easily find didn't have really any WBA stuff.

Yeah, that's a problem for all English teams apart from perhaps a dozen with broad fanbases and matching distribution deals. The club shop is your friend here: while smaller clubs' retail operations are not particularly slick, they're often happy to make a special effort for fans abroad.
posted by holgate at 9:56 AM on August 21, 2012

Since you've followed England since '98, you're prepared for the eventual misery and disappointment.

It's true. Nothing has prepared me better for heartbreak than watching England repeatedly lose on penalties! I'll always love them, though, and whilst it's nice to see your team go all the way, I'm happy to revel in the smaller victories, too.

All that being said, I think I'm probably going to follow my heart and choose West Brom, because I'm just very drawn to their fans and the squad's general pluckiness. However, I will reserve final judgement for Saturday when the two sides face each other in London in order see exactly how they match up in style, so if anybody really wants to sway me towards Spurs, you still have some time!

Thanks for all the great answers so far, everybody!
posted by baronessa at 3:17 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, and now Defoe has gone to QPR. It's like they knew you were on the fence.

Speaking of reveling in the small victories - As I said earlier, I'm an Owl. I've been an Owl for a most of my life now. I've seen us go through relegation, the hell of Sir Dave Richards, financial mismanagement, and near winding-up. Last season's promotion race was really something special that I don't think most "fans" of big clubs could really get. (The fact that our rivals, Sheffield United, lost the playoff on pens was just gravy.) It really carried me in ways I didn't expect.

Then we have this week - Monday night Everton beat Man Utd and I was buzzing. Tuesday night, Sheffield Wednesday hold on to beat Birmingham City. I was on the brink of puking from nerves, but when JJ scored that third goal I felt it all melt away to a giant grin. That feeling. I wouldn't trade that for anything.
posted by kendrak at 10:51 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Showed this to a (non-MeFite, USian) Tottenham fan. His response:

you should explain to that dude that if Jermaine Defoe is his favorite Spur then the decision has been made already.. he's a WBA fan
posted by 7segment at 8:43 AM on August 24, 2012

you should explain to that dude that if Jermaine Defoe is his favorite Spur then the decision has been made already.. he's a WBA fan

Ha! Fair enough. I know a lot of people at WHL are down on Defoe, but he's score some great goals for England over the years, and he always gives it his all on the pitch in international tournaments, which is more than I can say for Rooney.

One correction for your friend, though: Not all football fans are 'dudes'—I'm a girl ;)
posted by baronessa at 10:09 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

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